With the exception of our hairless feline friends, hairballs are a part of life for just about every cat. Coughing up a hairball certainly doesn’t look like a pleasant experience for your cat, and it’s no fun for you to clean up, but are hairballs harmful? Here, your Carlisle, ON veterinarian fills you in on the basics of hairballs.
Why Do Hairballs Form?
Your cat’s tongue picks up loose fur from the coat when your pet grooms herself. This hair is swallowed, and most of it moves through the digestive tract naturally and gets expelled in the fecal matter. Some of that hair, however, stays in the gut and clumps together, forming what’s known as a hairball. This clump of hair is eventually regurgitated, along with a bit of stomach fluid.
Are Hairballs Harmful in Any Way?
No, the occasional hairball is not harmful—it’s a normal process for your feline friend and doesn’t hurt her in any way. However, if you think your cat is coughing up hairballs frequently, it’s worth a trip to the vet’s office. Something could be causing your cat to shed more, thereby swallowing more hair and producing more hairballs.
Additionally, it’s important to understand that vomiting is not the same as coughing up a hairball. If your cat is vomiting on a frequent basis, visit the vet’s office. If you see your pet coughing and gagging without actually producing anything, she might be choking—rush her to the emergency room.
Can I Help My Cat Cough Up Fewer Hairballs?
Yes. You’ll be pleased to know that there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce the amount of hairballs that your cat coughs up. First, brush her on a regular basis; this traps much of Fluffy’s loose fur in the brush itself, preventing her from swallowing it and reducing hairballs in the long run.
Another thing you can do is upgrade your cat’s diet. If your cat is receiving a budget food that doesn’t contain the right nutrients, her coat is likely suffering and she’s probably shedding more than she should be. When your cat gets the proper nutrients, though, the coat stays in tip-top shape with minimal shedding. You can even talk to your veterinarian about hairball formulas, foods made specifically to minimize shedding and hairballs!
Ready to schedule an appointment with your Carlisle, ON pet clinic? Call the office today.